It’s been an employer’s world for awhile now. Employee retention, especially of key talent, has not been a strong focus for the last two years because most employees held tight to their jobs due to economic uncertainty. However, the numbers are beginning to improve and employment experts expect that larger numbers of employees will start seeking new opportunities. Employee retention saves money and protects the morale of the entire company. What can you do to retain your key players?

Understand employee motivation. I’ve talked about it at length here and here, but know this one thing: keeping employees satisfied is not all about money and fringe benefits.

Maintain an open door policy. A significant number of employees cite their direct supervisor as the reason they are leaving their positions. Employees need to have the freedom to discuss supervisory issues without repercussions.

Be careful that you don’t inadvertently punish employees for loyalty. Pay inequity tends to punish the most senior employees because raises haven’t kept up with the external market. New hires often make more, particularly in larger companies, than their loyal, well-trained counterparts. And despite confidentiality agreements, employees DO talk. Review salaries frequently and keep your most valuable employees fairly rewarded.

Watch the micromanagement. One of the key motivators for employees is autonomy. Once well-trained, give them the leeway to perform on their own and to sometimes fail. Often more is learned from failure than training. Employee retention improves the more employees are left to manage their own performance.

Grow a solutions-oriented culture. If employees come to you with complaints about people or processes, always ask them how they would handle the situation. This does three things: it empowers the employee to take a more positive, solutions-based approach, it acknowledges the importance of the employee’s opinion AND it can give you real tools with which to work. A culture where employees are made to feel like they have a role in improving the workplace also improves employee retention.

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by Steven Schlagel